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Oddbins Wine Merchants

  • KATE BUSH, THE QUEEN AND OTHER CLEVER BIRDS

    It’s spring: Mother Nature is returning to her most creative phase, producing daffies, lambs and chocolate (or do Green & Black’s make chocolate?); Croydon’s finest, Kate Bush, is returning to the stage like the sun to Narnia after a 30 year hiatus; and The International ‘Bloomin’ Eck is Mothers’ Day This Sunday?*’ Day is upon us. Yes, really! So read on and find out what the people who understand Mums best (that’s us, not Loose Women) recommend for these Givers of Life…
    This is the refrain, sung over and over again by Kate Bush in a song about her son Bertie and is not, we’ll sacrilegiously offer, one of her finest moments. Very often, something happens to women when they have children that interferes with self-censorship, leading to very vocal enthusiasm for their offspring. So say thanks to your Mum for probably embarrassing herself for at least five years, enthusing about YOU – yes you! – with a beautiful, rarefied Champagne. Henriot Rosé NV (£46) was recently described by The Times’ Jane MacQuitty as having a ‘bright, lemony scent and [a] long, creamy, spicy finish’. It’s also in limited supply, so fill your boots quickly. Anyway, if you are a Mum, particularly with a child around seven years old, you may want to cover your eyes now because…
    Yup, according to boffins, the reasoning faculties of young humanoids matches that of ‘Caledonian crows’ (that doesn’t just mean ‘crows in Scotland’). But (dignity slightly wounded) we invite you to join us in pretending not to have heard that. Instead, let’s remind ourselves how classy, beautiful and intelligent we are… So classy, that we drink delicious things like Crôzes-Hermitage ‘La Tuilière’ and say highly witty things like “you could say it’s a Crows-Hermitage”. Though, what everyone doesn’t know, is that this brilliant, gently spiced classic is currently down to £12.50 from £14.50. We can celebrate our classiness by attending the highly cultural events like the Meltdown Festival though, if you happen to win the tickets, we won’t mention you got them free simply by subscribing to Odd News… Which leads us ever-so elegantly on to the ‘Royal We’…
    The Queen is a Mum who, it’s fair to say, has put up with a lot. The above quotes from her ever loyal, gaffe-prone other half, were the most quotable of the book – we repeat, book – written about his Royal bloopers. Well, every family has one and, if your ‘Prince Phillip’ happens to be visiting this Easter, you can get a wine that's smooth, even if they aren't… Latria Montsant is a cracking alternative to Rioja with lamb (more food matches from Oddbins’ Buyer Ana in Fine Foodies Magazine (page 33), and is one of the most unctuous, silky, juicy wines around. And – shhhh – it’s only £9.50. Mum’s the word.Toodles.

  • THE RHÔNE, NEIL YOUNG AND FREE MELTDOWN TICKETS

    To quote Otis Redding, we are going down in the valley, down in the valley so low. Down in the Rhône Valley to be precise. This week we are mining the soulful depths of this expansive southern French appellation with assertive, modern wines that showcase the jaw-dropping value to be found with just a lil digging. We’ve Châteauneuf-du-Pape-alikes for under a tenner, ethereally delicate Provencal rosés (we don’t need much prompting to bust out the rosé and sandals here at Oddbins) and all-round, supermarket-smashing wines that will make you want to go down, down, down in the valley, so low. Oh, and if you go low enough, you might just discover some hidden treasure…

    Skipping from Otis to Neil, merrily dispensing ear worms left, right and centre (that doesn’t sound very charming, but you catch our drift), we find another musician who knows that, sometimes, you have to dig deep to find the good stuff. It’s often the same with wines, but luckily our Buyer Ana Sapungiu is a superb miner and always strikes gold… The blueberry and star anise-laden Domaine de l’Arnesque Côtes du Rhône ‘Fleur de Garrigues’ 2011 (£9), for example, isn’t so much a wine as a gift to palates nationwide. So get in there as – to (mis-) quote Mr Young again – in the field of opportunity, Ana has been ploughing again… Now, if you really get carried away by the Rhône, you might end up in Provence, which is no bad thing, because it allows us to talk about Château Coussin Rosé 2012 (£12.25)… Aside from sun salutations and a trip to Stonehenge, this pink grapefruit and strawberry sorbet-flavoured jewel is a darn good way to welcome in the truanting golden sphere.

    That’s what our Ana sings as she skips around the office, sampling wines (contrary to popular belief, and unfortunately for her, she doesn’t spend her days cavorting around sunlit vineyards in bucolic idylls). No, she just sings ‘dig-diggy-dig’ in the office, where she discovered the 2010 Côtes du Rhône ‘Le Vent’ Rouge. The winemaker, Jean-Luc Colombo, was a chemist in a former life and has deployed his science-y know-how expertly with Le Vent Rouge. For just £8.50 (down from £10), you get an awful lot of silky redcurrant and bay leaf flavours for your money. Another belter is the herby, warm and sensuous Serabel Gingondas 2012 (£15.50). From an underrated appellation in a cracking year, this Gigondas could give its neighbour, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a run for its money. Now, are we correct in thinking that you’ve been looking out for the hidden treasure we promised earlier? Well you’ve found it by gum! For we have two pairs of tickets to the cultural mecca that is the Meltdown festival, this June, on London’s South Bank. Meltdown is curated by a different musician each year and, this year, it’s the turn of Unkle co-founder James Lavelle, so should be a trip-hip-hop-electro delight (if that means something to you, you’re officially cool. If it doesn’t, then we’ll translate: it’s going to be brilliant). ‘But how do I enter?’ you cry. You already have, by subscribing to these bi-monthly musings! Good luck!

    Whilst we do like it down in the valley, we keep our periscope firmly above ground, and were alarmed when we clocked the rise of councils banning the sale of beers and ciders above six per cent. Brewing is an art and brewers must achieve balance between elements such as hops, alcohol and sugar. But if such schemes were rolled out nationwide, 23 per cent of the 398 craft products that won awards at the International Beer Challenge and International Cider Challenge would be banned. Our Managing Director, Ayo Akintola, had no hesitation in joining Off-Licence News’ United to Protect Strength campaign, saying: “The criminalisation of that which is not criminal, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, mustn’t be allowed to creep in through the back door. If it does, we don’t face a Nanny State, so much as a ‘Nurse Ratched’ State.” But, *dismounts soapbox*, if you want to check out craft beers with serious flavour (many of which weight in over six per cent) before a ‘crafty’ council stops you, we have a stonking range in our shops. So swing by your local and ask our staff for their brew du jour.

    Anyway, we hope you’re at least six per cent happier having read this – ‘til next time!

  • AND THE AWARD FOR THE WORST SPEECH GOS TO...

    Award acceptance speeches can be tricky. Alex Turner, the cheeky little Arctic Monkey, exemplified this in a rambling, bitter and frankly hilarious diatribe on rock ‘n’ roll when collecting Best British Group award at The Brits recently. What people say at awards ceremonies is often very telling: Alex Turner is clearly frustrated; some people have extraordinary egos; some are plain confused. It is with this in mind that we look at some of the winners and losers of the wine world – starting, modestly, with ourselves.

    On Wednesday evening, we were delighted to receive the Specialist Chain Award for our Portuguese wine range, from the Association of Portuguese Wine Importers. So now we’re all here, gathered together at our computers/iPads/phones, we’re going to make an acceptance speech of the tearful, ‘thanking gazillions of people’ ilk. But don’t worry, we’re not naming individuals; we’re naming a single group: you, our customers. We can line our shelves with all the Portuguese wine in the world, but there ain’t no point unless people actually buy the stuff. And you have! You’ve embraced the unpronounceable grape varieties and the unknown wine regions with open arms. One wine that you particularly love is also beloved of the press. Hamish Anderson, in The Telegraph, recently said of Quinta dos Roques (£12.25), that ‘although [it’s] their ‘entry-level’ bottling, it delivers plenty: rich brambly fruit, leather and black pepper. Its grip of tannin is best served alongside hearty food – steak or a rich stew’. Hamish, we agree. Keep spreading the Portuguese word and maybe we’ll retain this title for a third year running. But for now, *wiping tears from our blotchy red face*, thank you, customers. This one’s for you.

    One country that you don’t hear much about in the wine world is Romania. They haven’t quite nailed the Alistair Campbell school of PR, but what they have nailed is stylish, cracking value wine. If they were to make an acceptance speech, it would most likely be humble, self-effacing and quick. So we’d like to step up to the platform and make a bit of noise on their behalf, principally about Frunza Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio. These wines come in at £6.50, arrive dressed in very modest, yet chic labels, and they are fantastic. We’ve never tasted Pinot Noir so good under £7; it’s soft, it’s moreish and bursting with berry goodness. And the can easily compete with Pinot Grigios twice the price. So down with humility! Down with self-effacement – this stuff is brilliant and we hereby crown Frunza the One of the Most Excellent Wineries, Like, Ever.

    And lastly, as we’re getting a little tired and emotional, we’ll hand over to Dan, the Manager at Oddbins Chorlton, which held its own Win(e)ter Olympics (see what we did there?) last week…
    “Dan here! Throughout the last few weeks me and the gang have been re-tasting rather lovely tipples left, right and centre, in our quest to crown the ultimate bargain of bargains on our shelves. Without further ado, here are some highlights: Best Bargain Red goes to Paseo Red (£5.75), from Portugal, A.K.A. ‘The one with the bike on it’. Our little Portuguese friend here is seriously good value and seriously quaffable; Best Bargain Fine Wine goes to Filipa Pato FP Branco (£11.75), from Portugal. We finish on an absolute stonker here: featured in February's edition of Decanter Magazine, it was named as their ‘Must Try White’ in their ‘20 Great Wines Under £25’, scoring a whopping 94/100. A pear, white fruit and mineral affair that just begs for simple, fresh seafood.”

    Before we go, we have to thank our Mum. Mum – we love you.

  • THE ARK OF LOVE

    When we moan about the weather here in Britain, we usually do so with a grim sense of humour, draw up our coats and go about business as usual, mumbling about it being nice weather for ducks. But our recent hammering by Atlantic storms is testing even the most stiff upper lipped of us. Here at Oddbins Towers, whilst we can’t control nature, build an Ark (round or otherwise) or prevent the predictable bun-fight of people trying to score political points in hastily-purchased Hunter wellies, we can – and will – do the only thing we know how... free Champagne anyone?!
    As British and as controversial as our misbehaving jet stream, Disraeli certainly had a valid point about passion. Enter stage left, Drappier Exception 2008; a Champagne that doesn’t have a PR machine spinning away behind it, or music mogul clientele, but what it does have by the truckload is passion. Drappier is a family-owned House that's mad keen on Pinot Noir, who happen to be the former supplier of Charles de Gaulle. The love and energy they put into their wines is evident in the 2008: with flavours of freshly baked cinnamon buns paired with cleansing acidity, it’s an absolute charmer and has made Drappier converts of our staff and customers alike (plus, with £4 off, it has extra allure). So today, on this rain-lashed Valentine’s Day, we’re putting this big hunk o’ passion on free tasting in most shops, which are not flooded, we assure you*.

    *Flood status correct as we went to print.

    Meanwhile, for those inconvenienced by the recent tube strikes or those who just love their beer, our London shops will be offering a free tasting of London Fields Brewery’s rather fine range. And, if you’re after an alternative to Cadbury’s Milk Tray this Valentine’s Day, we’d thoroughly recommend their Chocolate Porter. Plus, you can get the Milk Tray Man look for free as you splosh through puddles on your way back from Oddbins, all because the lady loves a nice Porter…

    February 14 is unquestionably a day to celebrate being big Down Under, right?! Seems like the perfect opportunity to discuss our love-in with creative genius Ben Glaetzer who – along with his chums in Langhorne Creek, South Australia – creates wines to make you go weak at the knees. As well as having a very Valentine's-friendly name, his Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein is a brilliant example of Italian grape varieties thriving in Australia. If bright, perfumed and sensuous is how you like your ideal dinner companion, then Ben’s bottles are bound to have you at g’day. His wines are available online and in selected shops and you can get up close and personal with Ben on our Meet the Winemaker page here.
    But if neither free Champagne nor craft beer tastings can alleviate your displeasure at the weather, then you may want to go On The Road to the Americas. No, we’re not going to take you on a personal quest for meaning and belonging across the United States - as romantic as that may sound - but 'Beat' a track further south, to the enticing climes of the Caribbean. Distilled in Guatemala, and aged in the Solera method used in sherries, Ron Zacapa’s Solera Rum offers real escapism and currently has £5 off. The oldest part of this mix has been wending its way to the bottle for some 25 years and the result is sweet, unctuous and utterly sexy. It is swathed in heady caramel, dark chocolate, molasses, coconut and dried banana flavours, and its lingering finish is perfect for those who are in it for the long run…

    So, unless the Atlantic winds thwart us entirely, we’ll see you next time.

  • HERALDRY, ORNITHOLOGY AND SPACE EXPLORATION

    Isn’t the retail calendar shamelessly predictable? Christmas has only just finished when the inevitable January sales roll round, next up is Celebrate Couples Day, soon we’ll be reminding you about your Mother (like you could forget) and before you know it, you’ll be knee deep in chocolate eggs and fluffy chicks, lambs, bunnies and the like. So we’re going to break free from the trade clichés that shackle us to this hamster wheel of holidays and tell you about heraldry, ornithology and space exploration instead……oh sorry, the powers that be have told us we can’t, we’ve got to tell you about Valentine’s Day, kissing and mushy stuff like hearts and flowers. Sorry we tried. How does one get off this infernal cycle?

    He may rival Cupid with his penchant for loosing arrows, but did anybody else notice how everybody’s favourite albino elf used the plural there? Nothing says “hopeless romantic” like a firm grasp on the concept of monogamy. If, like Mr Legolas Bloom you have a different lover for every day of the week, although Oddbins cannot condone this kind of behaviour, we are still on hand to help you out with Valentine’s Day gifts…

    We have six incredible new wines from a South American winery whose name rather fittingly means “beautiful heart”. Pora Py’a own vineyards in both Chile and Argentina, where they create a series of stunning wines made from single grape varieties. From Chile we have Carmenère, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc and from Argentina we have Malbec, Shiraz and Torrontes. Each one is an Oddbins classic in the making, but the standouts for us are the Torrontes, which is so jam packed with jasmine and rose notes that you won’t have to buy a bunch of flowers for February 14th, the Sauvignon, which is like a veritable tropical honeymoon, and the Malbec, which our buyer Ana described simply as “love at first taste”. And if you are counting them and thinking “that’s only six, didn’t you say a lover for every day of the week?” then please remember that although Orlando Bloom may be some kind of modern lothario, even that smoothest of operators: Craig David, had to chill for one of the seven days in the week.

    Mr Leno owns approximately 190 vehicles, including 90 motorcycles, so it is little wonder he resents spending a little extra on his wife, Mavis, on Valentine’s Day. Now, we may not be quite as cynical as Mr Leno, but there’s no denying that around February 14th prices on flowers, chocolates, underwear and restaurant menus seem to take a step in the wrong direction from a consumer perspective. Not at Oddbins though, we’re doing the exact reverse. To celebrate passion, love, companionship and all that mushy stuff, we’re knocking money off the most romantic of beverage of all: Pink Champagne. There’s £10 off the iconic Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne and £13 off the spicy and rose gold-hued Heidsieck Monopole Rosé Champagne. But our top tip is the Oddbins exclusive Antoine Remy Rosé Champagne, down to the unbeatably good value of just £25. By purchasing this glorious fizz, you aren’t paying for fancy marketing, celebrity endorsement or elaborate packaging, no, you are simply taking home pure boutique craftsmanship that has turned humble grapes into wild strawberries and cream, raspberry sorbet, cherry blossom and bubbling stars. Forget Jay Leno, when it comes to the most romantic night of the year Antoine Remy is the Tonight Show.

    If you don’t have plans for Valentine’s Day, don’t worry about it, it is just a day like any other. Except it isn’t this year, because this year it’s a Friday. So iron your best outfit, pour a gin and tonic (into yourself, not the iron) and hit the town. Caorunn is our gin of choice (currently £4 off), a crisp tipple made from a mixture of rowan berry, bog myrtle, heather, Coul Blush apple, dandelion leaf and other botanicals. With that list of ingredients, the recipe sounds like a love potion, and to be honest it is: you’ll fall head over heels…

                                                                                                                       …for Caorunn.

    That’s all from us, except to say a very passionate and heartfelt toodles and to let you know that the next edition of Oddnews will definitely be about heraldry, ornithology and space exploration.

  • SHOCKING NEWS

    The news has been absolutely shocking this week. The weather is bad. A Frenchman has had an affair. Politicians are finding it hard to agree on stuff. Men in power have proven that they can’t be trusted. And women can do what men can’t (re: The Ashes and to be honest probably much more). Amongst all these revelations, we are going to try and break from the tedious, obvious and stereotypical January advice by telling you about economising, why being nice is good and the benefits of exercise. Oops, we've done it too, but don't worry it is much more fun the Oddbins way…

     

    Confucius was a wise man, not someone who tricked flowering shrubs as his name suggests. We know he was wise because he had the prerequisite impressive beard, flowing robes and propensity to speak in riddles. Now, we at Oddbins may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, but we’re not convinced by his wisdom, and this is why…

    This month we unleashed the Oddbins January Sale, the perfect way to spend less on the things you love. However, we’ve slashed prices on so many wines and spirits that across the country huge swathes of people are vacillating wildly over which wines to purchase. This proves that economising does not negate agonising and therefore Confucius could’ve more succinctly said “people have to think about stuff”, which doesn’t seem that wise does it? All this Confucius has confused us, so we’re off to peruse the fantastic selection of offers on our website and the even greater number in our shops, safe in the knowledge that nobody can argue that saving money isn’t fun.

     

    The quote above was taken from www.thankateacher.co.uk, a lovely website that allows students, parents and colleagues to do exactly what its name suggests. Oddbins loves this idea. Oddbins would not be what it is without teachers. Unfortunately if we thanked every one of the teachers that made us who we are, this email would become even more waffly than normal. So instead, this weekend (Friday 17 – Sunday 19 January 2014) we’re offering 10% off wine to all teachers. Don’t believe us? Have a read of our blog. And if you are a brewer or a beer drinker, you may want to have a read also, because you are up the weekend after. From all at Oddbins: thank you teachers.

     

    We’ve not a Scooby Doo who P Martin Scott was/is. We tried to find out, but apparently the internet doesn’t actually cover everything yet and there are loads of shiny things to distract you. However, what P Martin Scott seems to be saying is that bicycles indicate an environmental condition in the human world, like the rose bushes planted at the end of the rows do in a vineyard. But what does the increasing number of bicycles in Britain indicate? Answers on a postcard. Is the UK getting healthier? Are we becoming more environmentally conscious? Are the prices of other forms of transport proving unpalatable? Maybe all of these things, or maybe we just want to return to our childhood and have a bit more fun. Now, if you watch Call the Midwife, you may be forgiven for thinking that riding a bicycle does not result in a barrel of laughs, but there has to be an exception to every rule. Riding a bike can be really fun, but don’t just take our word for it, John F Kennedy said: “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”

    If you aren’t convinced, don’t worry, we’re not going to bully you into it. But we would suggest the Paseo Red or White from Portugal as an alternative. These superb value (£5.75), gorgeously fruity wines come from the same stable that brought you Quinta Bons Ventos and they even have a bicycle on them, which is almost as good as actually riding a bike. And the white one goes really well with shellfish, eaten while sitting on the edge of a bay. What do you think that indicates?

    That’s all from us, now how long until the next series of Sherlock?

  • JANUARY FUN WINE DISCOUNTS AT ODDBINS 2014

    January Fun Wine Discounts at Oddbins 2014

    This time last year Oddbins brought you the now infamous January Love Wine Discounts 2013 for mothers, Germans, redheads and those ever popular bankers and journalists. Our theme in January 2013 was “LOVE” and we were attempting to start the year by spreading some love to people who we felt hadn’t received the love they deserved in 2012.

    The response was almost unanimously and gloriously loving, with the exception of one gentleman, let’s call him Jeff. Jeff made a formal complaint on account of not fitting into any of the groups, but also because he had a sizeable chip on his shoulder, a sense of humour failure, way too much time on his hands and an unusual desire to give birth without having the appropriate genitals, which we can only assume was the result of unresolved, possibly oedipal, parental issues. Sorry, we Freudianly digress. Where were we? Oh yes…  Well, this January our discounts are back…

    Our theme for January 2014 is “FUN”. But it is difficult to have any fun when the country seems to be bound up in the negativity of our economic situation. Some things appear to linger indefinitely, outstaying their welcome and our boredom threshold, for other examples please see Plebgate, Miley Cyrus and would it be wrong to say UKIP? Mustard in the pantry? Seriously? You know women have been able to vote since 1918 and make up, give or take, 50% of the population, right?

    So we want to put the fun back and celebrate the people who will make 2014 joyful by carrying us, and our largely ineffectual politicians, up that unforgiving slope of recovery to the pinnacle of pleasure and merriment (please note that is not a smutty euphemism). Each weekend in January we will be offering a different select group a 10% discount off full price wines (including sparkling and fortified wines) in any Oddbins shop. But who is capable of rescuing our economy and restoring the exuberance? We put our top people on the case to find out…

    The results were undeniable. Back off Jeff, we said they were undeniable. And these are the people we are backing to make 2014 a vintage year of fun and frivolity…

     

    Lovers: Friday 3 – Sunday 5 January 2014

    Lovers: Friday 3 – Sunday 5 January 2014

    A recent study showed that we in the UK aren’t having as much sex as we used to. A certain baker obviously didn’t get that memo. So we want to celebrate the lovers. Not the procession of love rats reported daily in the press like the transcript of some Jeremy Kyle show. For the record, Harry -ironic surname- Styles, Simon -shouldn’t it be easier to keep it inside those high waisted trousers- Cowell and Jermain Defoe, who Alexandra Burke, sensibly in our book, replaced “with Merlot”, need not apply. No, we want to celebrate the real lovers. And this is why…

    A lil’ lovin’ is not only excellent exercise, but it also boosts your immune system, lowers blood pressure and risk of heart attacks, improves sleep and eases stress. So forget an apple a day, apparently the beast with two backs could reduce pressure on the NHS, make our workforce stronger, healthier and happier and help to rebalance our ageing population. Apparently the reasons for the UK’s currently limping libido are financial problems, unemployment and too much technology. Well, unemployment has fallen to its lowest rate since early 2009 (who would have thought Gideon could affect our sex lives? *involuntary full body shudder*), so to combat the other two our answer is: sell your technology to ease your monetary worries and get back down to doing the “bad thing”. Maybe a glass of wine would help get you in the mood? Just one mind, it is January and as Shakespeare advised the drink “provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”

    So if you head to any Oddbins shop between Friday 3 and Sunday 5 January 2014 and can convince our staff that you are a lover, without resorting to smut, nudity or depravity, you can have 10% off full price wines (including fizz and fortified wines).* Not sure how to go about it? Why not bring your partner with you? Flash that photo in your wallet? Show us that late night text sent just because you missed each other? Who knows, we might even believe you if you come back in wearing the same clothes as the previous night!

    Oddbins says: “FUN THROUGH PASSION.”

     

    Engineers: Friday 10 – Sunday 12, January 2014

    Engineers: Friday 10 – Sunday 12, January 2014

    OK, we know we told you to sell your technology in the previous section, but we lied, we’re fickle like that, we just wanted to demonstrate the absurdity of smartphone internet browsing as an alternative to foreplay. We love technology. Well not all of it, hence why you will never have unexpected items in your bagging area at Oddbins or have your wine delivered using a method which has had its accuracy called into question by Pakistan (do you really want your online orders to land on a neighbouring school?), but we are amazed by most of it.

    Human invention is rapidly changing the world: the Gastric-Brooding Frog will soon be resurrected from extinction to once more literally spew forth its babies on to this earth, 3D printing will revolutionise the drunken office party, buildings like The Shard pop up on our skyline almost overnight and may disappear just as quickly if South Korea’s Infinity Tower is anything to go by and who knows we may even find out what-in-the-blazes a Higg’s Boson actually is. We would love to get our puny appendages on the James Dyson Award-winning Titan Arm to allow us to carry more wine for you. We are super excited about mayoral theme park: Boris Island. Iran sent a monkey into space and it came back completely different, which added weight to the moon landing conspiracy theories, because those guys came back the same. Our imagination and inventiveness seem to know no bounds: cronuts, duffins, OK maybe that’s the end of Franken-pastries, well let’s hope it is before someone combines a Malaysian “curry puff” with the walnut and honey packed “nunt”. We jest of course, but on a serious note the future of the UK lies in development, ingenuity and creativity. Even former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, a man rumoured to have bought 38,000 menthol cigarettes just in case the EU tried to ban them and so obviously knows a thing or two about forward planning, says that Britain needs more engineers, there must be some irony it that…

    So if you are an engineer, engineering student or inventor head to any Oddbins shop between Friday 10 and Sunday 12 January 2014, prove it to our staff and you can have 10% off full price wines (including fizz and fortified wines).* You can prove it by showing us your business card, your student card or text books if you are an engineering student or simply by telling us about a project that you are working on.

    Oddbins says: “FUN THROUGH INNOVATION.”

     

    Teachers: Friday 17 – Sunday 19, January 2014

    Teachers: Friday 17 – Sunday 19, January 2014

    Question: How do people become superhero engineers capable of improving our economic fortunes? Answer: They need superhero teachers. In August we wrote a blog post offering to give away ten cases of wine to teachers who inspired you. The number of responses we received? Zero. But we will not be deterred in our admiration of educators…

    Apologies if we get a bit heavy for a moment, but we believe that teachers mould our lives and through them we learn to appreciate the world around us. Some of our favourite teacher moments of the year were reading about a teacher who took a student to basecamp on Everest, a teacher who confiscated a phone from a student and returned it with a selfie of himself and two colleagues, Jeremy Paxman asking Tristram Hunt the same question five times and still failing to get an answer (did you feel his pain teachers?), physics exam questions that start “Justin Bieber is thrown horizontally at 10m/s from the top of cliff 122.5m high…” and “Yo momma’s so fat that objects 5m away accelerate at 1m/s² toward her…”, the website www.thankateacher.co.uk, Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire that on paper appeared to be a painful mockumentary but through the power of good teaching produced one of the feel good highlights of the year and The Guardian’s Secret Teacher’s suggestion of Ofsted inspections for nativity plays because “this unnecessary frivolity is having a direct and catastrophic impact on our position in international league tables.” We should be doing everything we can to prevent the steady exodus of teachers, they should not be scapegoats for politicians, prey for the tabloid press or an excuse for poor parenting. We should appreciate them because we need them, they teach us to appreciate everything else. And life is way more fun if you have the slightest Scooby Doo how any of it works!

    So if you are a teacher or lecturer head to any Oddbins shop between Friday 17 and Sunday 19 January 2014, prove it to our staff and you can have 10% off full price wines (including fizz and fortified wines).* You could prove it by showing your union membership if you are a member, you elbow patches if you are a geography teacher or we'll happily probe you on some subjects that we remember from school.

     Oddbins says: “FUN THROUGH APPRECIATION.”

     

    Brewers: Friday 24 – Sunday 26, January 2014

    Brewers: Friday 24 – Sunday 26, January 2014

    The first rule of Oddbins Fun Club is: if you don’t like wine, there’s beer and it is also awesome. Drinking anything that wasn’t lager used to put you in the beards, cardigans and boring brigade. Well recently beards, cardigans and boring (read geeky) became hip, and with it so did drinking good beer, with a little help from the most unexpected of places: America. We can argue the toss over what a craft beer is, but we can all agree that the revolution, like it or not, started in the more forward thinking areas of the US. Did you know that studies have shown a positive correlation between the concentration of microbreweries and the likelihood of that area voting for Barack Obama? Need more celebrity endorsement? Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger declared: “When you grow up you have to drink beer.” And supermodel Christy “Fatso” Turlington admitted: “I have a beer belly.” Looking down at our own paunch, we think our own love of beer may be growing more rapidly than Ms Turlington’s…

    The number of breweries in the UK topped 1,000 in 2012 and another 187 were added to that total in 2013 (roughly 30 more than the previous year). Although craft beer only represents 0.5% of the total beer sales it is one of the rare areas showing growth in this country. And it doesn’t stop there, it has long been thought that agriculture and therefore modern civilisation started because of bread. Although we do love a slice of hot buttered rye bread toast with our rillettes, we were pleased to hear that a rogue group of presumably ale-loving scientists now believe that it was actually beer that kicked the whole thing off. We have accepted this hypothesis as fact and are proud to announce that all that is good about Britain was built on beer. And so shall it return if we continue to back craft brewers across this great nation.

    So if you are a brewer head to any Oddbins shop between Friday 24 and Sunday 26 January 2014 and you can have 10% off full price wines (including fizz and fortified wines).* But because we realise that this is a relatively small group, anyone who comes in on this weekend can have 10% off the full price of any beer in our “local craft beer” range (ask staff for details).

    Oddbins says: “FUN THROUGH FERMENTATION.”

     

    And finally, if anybody manages to pick up the discount every weekend and can prove it by way of receipts, then we have some bonus fun for them.

    *The above discounts are only applicable to full price wines. No further discount will be applied to items already on special offer.

  • CALLING ALL LOVERS, ENGINEERS, TEACHERS AND BREWERS

    Sorry, we’re just in the middle of a game of Monopoly - we started it on Boxing Day would you believe - and so we’re going to keep this relatively short and sweet...

    If you want to get it right this New Year’s Eve, head to Oddbins, we’ve got drinks that are worth celebrating in their own right. You could pick up the toasty Torre Oria Cava or the fruity Prosecco Ca’Rosa without going over a tenner. If you fancy heading off-piste there’s our Californian Roederer Estate Quartet or if Champagne is more your thing, try the great value Oddbins exclusive Antoine Remy for only £27. Alternatively celebrate in style with our top tip: the elegant Laurent-Perrier Vintage with £10 off until the end of 2013 and vanilla-spiked baked apple and rich tea biscuit flavours, or the simply exquisite and rhubarby Bollinger La Grande Année. If you are heading out into the cold and need something smooth but warming for the hip flask, it is hard to go wrong with a classic like the Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old (down to £33 before New Year) or confuse your friends with the woody and honeyed Mackmyra First Edition Whisky from Sweden.

     

    Whatever you are looking for to accompany the bells, our stores are here to help. We’re open as usual today and most are open until 8pm on New Year’s Eve. Happy shopping and more importantly Happy New Year.

    Oddbins are very keen that nobody misses out on fun. And quite frankly we eat rule books for breakfast (metaphorically of course, we actually had kippers), so that is why our now infamous January discounts are back. So if you are a lover, an engineer, a teacher, a brewer, a beer drinker or just someone who knows someone who fits into one of those categories, you may want to have a read of our latest blog post.

     That’s all from us, except to remind you that the Oddbins sale starts in January. Now, where were we? Oh yes, all we need is a hotel on Pall Mall and we might be within three days of finishing this blasted game of Monopoly…

  • TERRY'S TALES Part Five: Waking Up

    Welcome to Part Five of Terry's Tales. If you've missed any episodes, you can catch up with Part One herePart Two here, Part Three here or Part Four here.

    TERRY'S TALES

    Part Five: Waking Up

    Waking up, Terry thought something was different. He could see that the landscape before him had changed, quite considerably. He also noted that he was swinging back and forth in what, he was beginning to deduce, was a glass jar.

    His deductions, having taken some time to occur, had brought him up to speed with Gwinny, who was, he also now noted, standing in front of him, shouting her head off.

    “Wake up, you stupid ant, WAKE UP!”

    “Er,” Terry managed. They were indeed in a glass jar, accompanied by a panic-struck stick insect, a bay leaf and some cotton wool. He tuned back into the monologue streaming from Gwinny’s mouth: “… why did you go to sleep? Now this sodding human’s packed us in a sodding jar with a sodding stick insect and a sodding bay leaf and there’s sod all we can do about it!” The honeymoon period’s over then, thought Terry, before beginning a long, confused apology.

    The apology was still continuing when the swinging motion stopped and they were transferred, very carefully, by some enormous pink fingers, into a tank in a warm, dimly lit room that appeared, for some reason, to have a colourfully lit fir tree in the corner.

    By now immune to further changes in circumstance, Terry and Gwinny set about exploring their new habitat, as did the still panic-stricken stick insect. “I’m sorry, Gwinny, I didn’t know I was so tired.” “Oh that’s alright, I’m equally to blame,” she relented. “Anyway, we’re here now – why don’t we have a look around?” So they did. Curiously wondering over piles of cotton wool, partially soaked in milk, further bay leaves and artfully arranged pieces of bark, they stumbled on a very surprising sight indeed. There, on a large leaf, lay the Queen and her children.

    “What the…” exclaimed Terry, as the Queen looked away, whistling, and did her best to pretend she hadn’t seen them. “Wait, Terry, let’s not start a war. There’s only one tank, and we all have to share it. Let’s be the bigger ants,” said Gwinny, though the irony of who was literally the bigger ant wasn’t lost on her and she giggled despite herself. She picked up a piece of the milky cotton wool and carried it over to the Queen.

    “I thought your kids, I mean, their Highnesses, might like this,” she said gently.

    Not knowing how to arrange her face, the Queen said she was thankful and accepted Gwinny’s offer. Looking and feeling very contrite, she wasn’t sure what to say, but thought she’d attempt some conversation, saying “I think this human is something of a collector,” to which they all grimly nodded. Terry wasn’t quite as ready to bury the past, thought, and asked the Queen why she persecuted Talkers.

    Leaning forward, fiddling with her forelimbs, she said “I understand. You need answers.” And she proceeded to explain that, generations ago, there was a brother and a sister who could talk. This ability led them to fall out: the brother thought they should try to find a way to teach the colony to talk, but the sister thought that they were the Chosen ants, and the power should stay with them. She assumed power and banished her brother to prison, but didn’t realise that he had had children, who could also talk. When she discovered he had family, she undertook to eliminate them all, but didn’t succeed. “And, generations later, I have done my best to continue her work”, then, hanging her head, she added “but I may have been gravely mistaken.”

    “OK, I’ve got it. I don’t want to dwell on the past anymore ,” said Terry, “I want to think about the future, because the reality is that we are family, and I think we have a lot of mending to do. And the first step is to teach that colony to Talk.”

    Gwinny thrust her head between them, dusted her shoulder theatrically, and reminded Terry that they were, more specifically, a royal family.

    “So that’s what I intend on doing, as soon as I can find a way out of here” continued Terry. Looking at Gwinny, he feistily asked, “are you with me?” to which she nodded vigorously.

    Turning back to the Queen, he quizzically asked, “are you with me?” at which she raised, possibly for the first time in her life, a little smile. Which turned into a big smile and, looking at her children, proudly said, “we’re with you.”

    “That’s settled then! But there’s one thing I don’t get: how did your great grandmother put her brother in jail after he’d copulated? Copulation Means Extermination – we all know that.”

    “Of course, you don’t know,” said the Queen, looking like she had some very good news indeed. Terry sat there rigid, eyes bulging in anticipation.

    “Talkers don’t die.”

    “We don’t die?”

    “That’s right.”

    “We... Gwinny and I… can live?”

    “That’s right.”

    The thought struck him not with joy, strangely, but with a slight anguish. “But all this time! I thought it was hopeless and I accepted that it would never happen. And I was prepared to die in order to do it. And now…” Terry didn’t know what to feel. The same doubt and fearful confusion that he’d felt when he met Gwinny came flooding back even stronger. “But I can’t…”, now weeping.

    “Yes you can. And you will… and, frankly my dear, it will blow your mind. But,” noticing Terry’s face turning crimson, “enough of that now…”

    Then quite a different doubt entered his mind: “But, my father didn’t survive – he died after copulation.”

    “Ah, I heard about that – natural causes, Terence. He died of a heart attack.”

    “It’s Terry,” he muttered, abstractedly, as he looked at the fire place, and then at Gwinny, bathed in the amber glow of the flames and heard the humans shout something that sounded like Happy Christmas, before bursting into a rather pretty song about some merry gentlemen. He felt merry indeed, now, actually, very merry indeed…

    The End

     

    Images artfully crafted by Catalin Ardeleanu.

  • HOBBITS, ANCHORMAN AND DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

    For this edition of Oddnews we’ve taken inspiration from the upcoming Christmas cinema and TV viewing…Tonight on Channel 4, everyone’s favourite mentalist, Derren Brown, is going to teach grannies to steal pieces of art. This novel approach to combating the impact of rising fuel prices on pensioners landed the illusionist in hot water when two Damien Hirst artworks, which looked very much to us like a join-the-dots London Underground maps, were stolen. But we want to assure you that not all magic will result in a visit from the po-po. To prove it, our final magic video teaches you a trick that you can use to astound your friends over the festive period. Alakazam.

    We are proud to announce that in preparation for Christmas 2015, Peter Jackson has just started filming his third Hobbit-based film series, the lesser known J.R.R Tolkien work: Hobbits Open a Wine Shop. The basic premise, if you haven’t read the book, is that under the watchful eye of Bilbo, Frodo sets up a wine merchant called Oddbaggins and goes on multiple wine tasting adventures to find the perfect Christmas wine, all the time hounded by his evil competitor Gollum. We’ve got the inside scoop on a couple of the preciousss beverages featured… Kuru Kuru Pinot Noir (you know hobbits love New Zealand) and the great value Burgundy-a-like Viña Leyda Falaris Chardonnay from Chile are Frodo’s top matches for Christmas dinner. And we heartily second that motion, because they were our pick of the bunch too. But for those who prefer beer to wine, we’d recommend our first ever collaboration beer ELB Oddbins Nº1, a limited edition amber winter ale brewed with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, nutmeg and vanilla. Available by the case online or in selected Oddbins shops, while stocks last. It also makes an incredible chocolate mousse, click here for the recipe.

    Mother Christmas, who continues to give away Champagne on our Twitter page, has advised that she will not be going to see The Hobbit, siting elf flashbacks and her annoyance at the lack of strong female characters. She will instead be going to see Anchorman 2…

    Jumpers, socks and scented candles are terrible gifts. Sorry if this offends anyone, but we are campaigning for the rights of bad gift receivers across the country. Scotch is a great gift. If you get snowed in, you don’t want a scented candle, you want the creamy, warming peatiness of Ardmore. When the in-laws descend, you don’t want to lock yourself in the kitchen with a pair of socks, you want the reassuring smoothness of Tamdhu. Ugly Christmas jumpers simply do not taste as festive as Balvenie DoubleWood. And that is a scientific fact. 60% of the time, it works every time.

    Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with our handpicked, ready wrapped, free delivery Christmas Gifts or a nice bottle of (Ron) Burgundy. Just remember our Christmas delivery cut off is midday on Friday 20th December.

    Did you see Kate Middleton at the premier of Natural History Museum Alive? She was wearing those 3D spectacles, just like a normal person might, only she is far more beautiful and regal. Sorry we sarcastically digress…David Attenborough is quite right. Tonight is no ordinary night. It is Friday 13th people. On such a night, our advice is to stay home. Don’t be tempted to go out, something terrible might happen. Stay at home with a bottle of Champagne and celebrate surviving another Friday 13th. To be honest we’ll celebrate anything if it means we’re allowed Champagne. The outstanding Pol Roger Brut Réserve is a great place to start. Packed with gently spiced baked apple and croissant flavours, this has long been an Oddbins favourite. But if you’ve been very good, upgrade yourself to the peachy and toasty Pol Roger 2002 Vintage, currently with £8 off. Described by the Wine Gang as “exceptional”. Unfortunately we can’t tell you how we described it because it was so good that on tasting it we inadvertently swore a little, and that won’t get through your spam filter.

    That’s all from us, not many sleeps until Christmas…

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